The Lakes

The Lake District. Fellow ex Cowley pupils, perhaps 1981. We had gone our separate ways to college/university/polytechnic but met back up in the Summer for a few days. In the car on the way up from St.Helens we played an Imagination tape none stop, “body talk” and “just an illusion” being favorites. Some enjoyed a swim in the freezing water, I just kept my camera dry.

Top field

Top field Victoria Park, St.Helens.

Memories of many happy years exploring the park. Our house was very near the park and in the Summer we sometimes made our way with the plates, cutlery and pan and had a picnic meal on the top field just near the top hedge. Hotpot was one meal remembered.

3 static negatives

Animated gif file made from 3 consecutive black and white negatives shot in the 1970s as part of my duties to photograph the school teams and provide prints.

 

Team photos taken at Cowley Boys School in the mid to late 1970s.
It was sleeting as I took the pictures. As always I shot a few frames of each team so as to minimise the chance of anyone spoiling the shot by blinking or gesticulating.

Some forty years after taking these images I can recover a time element by animating between the three negatives, a highish definition black and white video of a time gone.

A separate image from another day and using the side of the quad rather than the steps.

Fountains

Victoria Park St.Helens, 1979.

 

Fellow Cowley pupil Robert Williams takes a photo as I record him and Victoria Park during a 6th form Photo Society outing in 1979.
Pilkingtons Glass was a major manufacturer based in the town and employed a whole lot of townsfolk in the factories dotted around.

Haydock races

Haydock Park, horse race in progress. Early 1980s shot on Kodachrome 25

 

Foggy hometime

St.Helens, across Ormskirk Street to the site of the new NatWest Bank yet to be built. Mid 1970s.

 


I have come to love this hopeless light, neglected and fading.

Two memories come to mind.

Ladies in their¬† older years always wearing scarfs over their heads, though I don’t think it was for religious reasons. Memory is of them hiding curlers or perhaps a bouffount protected from the wind.

A visit from the new manager of the bank when it was completed to the Cowley Sixth form. I cannot remember the purpose of the visit (perhaps recruit future staff?). I recall taking a very low view of the new bank, it seemed to me to be a way of extracting money from the local economy.

Decades later after many scandals and fraud it turned out that I may have had a point.

Chariots of fire

Olympic changing room scene filmed at Cowley boys school

The Summer of 1979 being the end of secondary education for me it was a treat when a film company used the school as a location in the final week of term. Being a little less than honest in saying “I was from the school magazine” I was fortunate that the director Hugh Hudson allowed me to photograph the scene he was filming in the changing room. This was destined to be the Paris Olympics changing room towards the end of the film “Chariots of fire”. Click on the image to see the whole sequence from 1979.

1979 filming at Cowley.

The Summer of 1979 being the end of secondary education for me it was a treat when a film company used the school as a location in the final week of term. Being a little less than honest in saying “I was from the school magazine” I was fortunate that the director Hugh Hudson allowed me to photograph the scene he was filming in the changing room. This was destined to be the Paris Olympics changing room towards the end of the film “Chariots of fire”.

Being the 1970’s Health and Safety was not a consideration, the images do provide a window into the period, pupils sitting on the low wall on the roof of the school, boys standing on the power cables to the big lights, chain smoking crew that knew how to swear in a very full and knowledgeable way….

It looks like a private school but it wasn’t, it was a very good school, needed a bit of updating but then we would not have had changing rooms that have not been altered since the 1930’s and the crew would not have come

 

Large powerful lights act as the sun shining through to the subterranean changing rooms. Top left shows boys dressed for sports emerging from a similar changing room at the other end of the school.
The Headmaster Mr McDonald emerges from the side entrance and monitors the situation.
The talent bus parked near the scene of the filming.
Being the 1970s things were a little more relaxed than these days.
Standing on the high current power lines going to the lights passes the time as the boys keep an eye on the onsite catering.
Lots of cigarettes.

Hugh Hudson (director) with his cameraman David Watkin. (David Watkin was also the cameraman on the film “Return to Oz” a far darker follow on from “The Wizard of Oz” would have been nice to have a chat with him if he were not so busy..)